AMS Metal stock estimations and community driven open source databases for urban mining

written by: Michelle, Elena, Ella, Sidney and Josefine, students Industrial Ecology at TU Delft & Leiden University

Before, the life cycles of products have been considered to be linear, but this concept makes it possible to make valuable, new products out of the waste of another good and therefore circular life cycles. It is considered as a way to lead a city, country or entire continent towards a more resource efficient, competitive and low carbon economy. Metals for example, are very suitable for closing the loops, because they are highly used within the urban environment and because of their high rate of recyclability.

We are Michelle, Elena, Ella, Sidney and Josefine and we are students Industrial Ecology in Delft and Leiden. This scientific field is considered to be the “toolbox for sustainable development”. We are involved in a project by Leiden University, TU Delft, municipality Amsterdam and AMS. The project is Prospecting the Urban Mines of Amsterdam (PUMA).

The municipality of Amsterdam has constructed a “sustainability agenda” in which the concept of circular economy is very important. Therefore it is important for the city of Amsterdam so make an inventory of what metals are available within the city boundaries. That is the goal of the PUMA project, it is to estimate the stocks of iron, aluminum and copper in buildings within the city. Our research is adding to that by making an inventory of the metals in 6, non-building, categories: transport, infrastructure, household appliances, commercial goods, industrial machinery and public goods.

The result of this inventory analysis is a large database of the categories that contain various products and their numbers of in-use products, their metal content and their lifetimes. Because this large database is hard to communicate with others, we have come up with an online tool, where one can see the 8 districts of Amsterdam and the amount of the three metals available there, per metal as well as category. The added value of our way of presenting this inventory database, will be an online database of the geographical data that is shown at a webpage. The page will be interactive and open-source tool so others can add their information about metal content of various products. This way the information on the metals can be gathered more easily, compared to other researches done before. To make sure the data that is entered on the website, an editorial office is needed, that can check the data before it is entered in the database.

For now, the research was very interesting for us to do because we learned to look very differently at equipment that we use every day. The hard part was sometimes the gathering of the inventory information, but we had quite some help from the database of the city of Amsterdam and various companies were willing to help.

Project leader / contact: Ruben Huele,